Who We Are & What We Do
The Physics Force is two committed science guys — who are retired physics and chemistry teachers — who love performing, demonstrating and teaching science concepts on stages and in classrooms around the country. Our mission is to help people of all ages see that physics is interesting, understandable and yes — even fun.
Why do we do it? Because it needs doing. We’re here to counteract influences that may discourage young people from being exposed to, enjoying or fully exploring physics.
- Many people have an irrational fear of physics — the dreaded “Physics Phobia.”
But it’s not scary — it’s exciting!
- Only a small percentage of high school students take a yearlong physics course.
But there’s a lifetime’s worth of knowledge to be had!
- Elementary teacher frequently choose biology of chemistry over physics for class science projects.
But there are easy ways to incorporate physics into any classroom!
Get to Know the Physics Force
Jack Netland and Hank Ryan are experienced educators who have made significant contributions to their profession. Each taught physics and chemistry at Twin Cities metro-area high schools for over 30 years. Now retired, they spend their days dreaming up new physics demos, documenting new practicums, performing and talking about physics to anyone who wants to hear.
Jack’s comedic presence makes him an audience favorite at Physics Force shows. He has been a frequent guest on Newton’s Apple and is a recipient of the Minnesota Excellence in Education award.
Hank — a frequent foil to Jack’s antics — completes the pair. He is a co-author of Practicums for Physics Teachers, a laboratory guide published in 1990 through a grant from the American Institute of Physics and now in it’s second edition. He is currently working on a third edition.
Jack and Hank along with Jon Barber also created a course designed to help elementary teachers increase their understanding and enjoyment of physics. The “SETUP” course has been taught at the University of Minnesota, Southwest State and and is currently being taught each semester at Bethel University as a required credit for elementary teacher candidates.
History of the Force
The Physics Force started on its mission in 1984 under the watchful eye of Phil Johnson, then the University of Minnesota physics department demonstration coordinator. Currently, The Force performs for 30 to 40 thousand people each year. It has been featured on Newton’s Apple, at Disney World’s Epcot Center, performs annually at the Minnesota State Fair and has traveled three times to Germany as guest of the Knott Hoff television program.
The Physics Force is dedicated to dispelling the myths and mysteries that lead to “Physics Phobia”. In the words of the late Phil Johnson: “One does not have to be a concert pianist to enjoy classical music, nor a physicist to appreciate the beauty of the natural physical laws that are a part of everyday life.”